STM32 – Discovery development board is a cheap development board to start with ARM microcontrollers provided by STMicroelectronics.
In STM32-Discovery board you will find STM32F407VGT6 32-bit microcontroller with 1 MB of Flash, 192 KB of RAM. Microcontroller can be clocked to maximum 168 MHz. Board already have ST-link interface that allows programming and debugging board without additional hardware. It already have couple LEDs and push button for fast start. Board is designed so it can be connected to prototyping board for easy interfacing. So I strongly encourage to start with this board. More information about development board can be found here.
Available development tools
ARM microcontrollers require tool to to write code, compile, debug or emulate. There you can find lots of choices like Keil Development kit, IAR, CrosWorks for ARM, CodeSourcery, GNU GCC tools like Yagarto and more. Companies provide great tools with lots of options and wizards that makes code developing robust, but these are paid options that usually isn’t acceptable by hobbyists. Sure you can give a try with demo or limited versions but still this means that you cannot fully use their benefits. So obvious choice is to go with free software which is powerful enough to use and get same results. As I am not a Linux user I will suggest only windows alternatives. As I mentioned on option is to use Yagarto tools that works great with Eclipse IDE which his also free. Another great free compiler tools are provided by CodeSourcery. They provide free Light edition G++ that provides all necessary tools that also can be used with Eclipse IDE. We will get more in to these in later tutorials.